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Jackson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 2, 2018

REBEKA ANN JACKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration for Operations, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          J. Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge

         NOTING Dated: April 20, 2018 This matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 4(a)(4), and as authorized by Mathews, Secretary of H.E.W. v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 271-72 (1976). This matter has been fully briefed (see Dkt. 13, 14, 15).

         After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ never resolved conflicts between the testimony of the vocational expert regarding if there is any work that plaintiff can perform given plaintiff's residual functional capacity and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles on that same issue. It appears that had the ALJ adopted a different set of limitations for plaintiff, that is, those that paralleled a different hypothetical presented to the VE at the hearing testimony, the conflict would have been resolved. However, such is not the case.

         Therefore, this matter should be reversed and remanded to the Administration for further proceedings consistent with this Report and Recommendation.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, REBEKA ANN JACKSON, was born in 1972 and was 37 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of July 1, 2009 (see AR. 151-56). Plaintiff has work history in dairy servicing with her former husband. AR. 177-80. Plaintiff started training as a self-reliance specialist, but was unable to keep the job. AR. 42-43.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “Degenerative disc disease, obesity, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 22.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in her mother's house. AR. 41.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and following reconsideration (see AR. 66-77, 79-93). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Vadim Mozyrsky (“the ALJ”) on December 11, 2015 (see AR. 37-64). On February 2, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act (see AR. 17-36).

         On June 8, 2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, making the written decision by the ALJ the final agency decision subject to judicial review (AR. 1-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's written decision in August, 2017 (see Dkt. 3). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter (“AR.”) on October 16, 2017 (see Dkt. 8).

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issue: Whether the ALJ's failure to reconcile apparent conflicts between the vocational expert's testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Selected Characteristics of Occupations defined in the Revised Dictionary of Occupational Titles was improper (see Dkt. 13, p. 1).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 ...


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